The Football Movement!
India recently hosted the third edition of it’s biggest football conference, The Football Movement in Mumbai earlier this month. The conference aims to provide attending delegates with the best possible opportunities to network & explore potential business opportunities in football.
The Premier League is one of the associated partners of the conference. To showcase the work that they’re doing in India, they invited grassroots coaches that were part of their Premier Skills Coach training program to be a part of the event. Orlando Viegas and I took the opportunity and attended the conference on behalf of the Foundation.
The Premier League had a special schedule for the coaches that included attending sessions as well as conducting training sessions and festivals. On the first day, we spent the afternoon attending panel discussions with the likes of Richard Masters, Premier League Managing Director, and Kushal Das, AIFF General Secretary talking about commercial sustainability in Indian football. Both the football dignitaries provided important insights on how the football business runs and the challenges faced by countries where football is still developing.
The next session we attended was about developing the footballing infrastructure in India and had Matt Hale, Academy Manager from Southampton FC and Mandar Tamhane, Bengaluru FC Chief Technical Officer. This conversation too proved to be interesting with the panelists discussing the need for a strong grassroots foundation and how good coaches are the key to developing the footballing infrastructure.
The coaches then left to participate in a halftime activity at the ISL match between Mumbai City FC and North East United. The coaches had to work in pairs and conduct a short 8-minute training drill with u10 kids during the halftime break. This was done to bring grassroots football into the limelight and showcase the work of the Premier League in India. The Premier League also brought out its big guns with former Manchester United legend, Namanja Vidic and former Swansea coach Garry Monk making an appearance to thunderous cheers from the crowd.
The next day started off with an early morning drive to Bandra to conduct a football festival for 100 kids. After the usual delays, the festival kicked off at 11.00 am, and each coach was assigned 6 kids and given three different coaching drills to conduct, including a 6v6 game. The highlight of this event was another appearance by Vidic and Monk who stayed around and spoke to the coaches about football in India.
After the festival, some coaches headed back while some attended the last day of the conference. I went back to the conference mainly to catch Matt Hale, Southampton Academy Manager talk about the club’s famous academy. As most of the football fans are aware, Southampton has one of English football’s best academies and they consistently churn out talent year after year. Their first team follows a very strong policy of promoting academy talent and the club generates huge revenue from player sales. Hale gave a quick run through on why their academy is so successful and how the ideology of the club makes such a big difference. Hale also spoke about the time and emphasis the club spends on developing not just football players but well rounded human beings.
Overall it was a great two days spent listening to some great people involved in the footballing industry in India and in England. There was a lot of ideas that we got which we now hope to put into practice at our own grassroots system. Of course, getting a chance to hang out with Vidic and Monk was icing on the cake.